Jabhat Nusra officially pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri in a recent statement. Despite Jabhat Nusra's attempts to reaffirm their Syrian identity, the announcement will likely enhance existing fractures between Jabhat Nusra and other opposition groups.
The Syrian opposition in southern Syria has achieved significant gains in recent weeks. The opposition in the north and south now appear to be launching similar, coordinated campaigns to outlast the will of the regime.
Since the fall of al-Raqqa city into rebel hands in mid-March 2013, many Syria commentators have been closely tracking events in the city as an indicator of Syria’s future under rebel control.
The opposition movement in Syria has been fragmented from its inception, a direct reflection of Syria’s social complexity and the decentralized grassroots origin of the uprising. This condition has plagued Syria’s armed opposition since peaceful protestors took up arms and began forming rebel groups under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the summer of 2011.
Sunni insurgents ambushed a convoy of Iraqi and Syrian troops inside Iraq on March 4, 2013, marking the clearest example of spillover from the Syrian conflict into Iraq since the beginning of the Syrian uprising in early 2011.
The conflict in Syria transitioned from an insurgency to a civil war during the summer of 2012. This report seeks to explain how the Assad regime lost its counterinsurgency campaign, but remains well situated to fight a protracted civil war against Syria’s opposition.
Following the February 28 Friends of Syria meeting, Secretary of State John F. Kerry announced that the U.S. will provide non-lethal aid, including food and medicine, to Syrian rebel fighters under the auspices of the Supreme Military Command of the Free Syrian Army.
Current estimates of Syrian opposition strength have generated confidence that the Assad regime will be defeated militarily. This assessment cannot be made without also estimating the real fighting power of the Syrian regime.